It's been a minute since I've written anything, and I appreciate all of the emails you people have sent my way since I left for Vegas. To be honest, I'm dealing with a few major developments that have put my mind in a strange place. Lately it's been impossible for me to sit in front of my computer and bang out anything of substance. Writing has always been difficult for me, but I've never experienced anything like this-----and I'm really not sure when I'm going to snap out of it.
Sad thing is, there's a myriad of topics on my mind at the moment (including the topic of this post). The Bearcat hoopers are making daddy proud, Cameron Heyward validated every glowing comment I've ever made about the guy, the goddamn Bengals are going to host a playoff game and I just got back from Vegas.
Beyond all of that, there's Nick Van Exel. Not only was his birthday less than a week ago...and not only was he in town last night as a member of the Texas Southern coaching staff...but his spitting image, Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, came into the league and turned me into an eleven-year-old boy all over again. So, like I said, I have an endless bucket of crap to write about...and yet...I'm struggling. Big time. I'm not in need of pity, but I would like you to be patient; I haven't given up my dream of making this sucker work. But right now I have no idea how to make that a possibility.
What you're about to read is something you may have partially read before. About a year ago I wrote passionately about college football's need for a tournament (I did this in two parts: here and here). I feel like I made solid arguments all the way around, but things have changed since then. And, of course, UC is involved this year. So, I updated last year's posts and re-worded some arguments, and what remained was the following piece:
The Cincinnati University Fighting Bearcats have ***no chance*** of playing in this year's BCS championship game, and that's more than a little stupid. The same can be said about undefeated mid majors TCU and Boise State, two teams who are good enough to beat absolutely anybody on a perfect night.
(***This is under the assumption that Texas and the Florida/Alabama winner finish their seasons without a loss***)
But arguing on behalf of UC and Boise and TCU is boring. For one, everyone else is doing it. For deux, it's only a small part of the argument I want to make. That is, the one I'm about to make.
I used to roll my eyes every time my dad suggested a 64-team tournament in college football; I agreed the current setup was a disaster, but I was more of an 8- or 16-team guy. But I've come around. Dad was right.
Sure, a No. 16 seed could never win it all, and it'd be incredibly difficult for a No. 12 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, but so what? How's that any different than March Madness?
I cringe with every excuse made for the BCS, and I start throwing my nephew's Hot Wheels across the room whenever I hear how the current setup gives college football the most exciting regular season of all the major sports.Who the hell cares? Wouldn't you like to have the most exciting postseason of all the major sports? If that doesn't make sense to you, think of it in terms of pornography: Would you ever hear a porn star claiming to be the best kisser in the industry? Of course not! But that's the kind of ridiculousness we're dealing with here.
Regardless, aren't tournaments fun? College hoops doesn't always crown the best team, but I never hear anyone complaining.
**********The folks making up the anti-playoff community usually envision at least two problems that aren't really problems: The season being too long (but it would really only effect four teams) and something about academic schedules (as if the coaches care about the "student" in student-athlete).
You could start the season every year on the last Saturday in August, trim regular season schedules from 12 to 11 (or even 12 to 10 and force the Big Ten and Pac 10 to play conference championships), give every team one bye week and the regular season would finish before Thanksgiving. Start the tournament the following Saturday and all but four teams are left on New Year's Day. It really is that simple.Isn't this a better plan than the ridiculous BCS? Wouldn't you rather see a 64-team field over a measly four teams competing? Think about this year: Who would be your 4-team field? Florida and Alabama (regardless of the game's outcome), Texas (assuming they win, and maybe even if they don't) and...who? UC? TCU? Boise? It still wouldn't be fair. Keep your four-team playoff to yourself. The only reason you even suggest it is because (a.) you heard someone else say it, or (b.) you haven't really thought it through. Trust me, having only four teams compete for the title accomplishes nothing. We need to go bigger, dammit! This is America!
Again, think of it in terms of March Madness.Every year the tourney offers a team (or teams) a shot at redemption. Whether it be a young team pulling it together at just the right time or a team that struggled with injury/chemistry issues early in the season, the tournament always offers a team or two who possess the right amount of swagger and skill to pull off the unthinkable.
But college football doesn't work like that.
College football has no place for Miami, who is very young, but also a nightmare matchup when they're hitting on all cylinders.
College football has no place for Stanford or Pitt, two dangerous teams who came out of nowhere this year to scare the BeJesus out of traditional heavyweights.
College football has no place for Iowa, who -- far as I can tell -- is getting screwed over more than everyone who isn't undefeated. They lost their QB, Ricky Stanzi, to injury early in a close loss to a better-than-mediocre Northwestern bunch. And then, with Stanzi still out, they took Ohio State to overtime (in Columbus!) before falling. That's it. According to me the Hawkeyes are still a very good team, and it would be nice if a healthy Ricky Stanzi led them onto the field in the NCAA tournament. But they'll never know if they were good enough to compete for the title, because the NCAA is penalizing them for a mid-season injury. Iowa's reward: They'll be playing in the Nondescript Bowl, against a nondescript team, in a game we'll probably not watch and undoubtedly won't remember.
Another team I feel sorry for is Oklahoma. The Sooners' Heisman-winning QB Sam Bradford injured his shoulder in an early-season loss to BYU. The thinking at the time was, If they can stay afloat without him, maybe he can return and lead the Sooners to a one-loss season and (maybe) they could play for the BCS championship. That was just stupid. Bradford was rushed back and he re-injured his shoulder. The Sooners continued to lose games, Bradford (a junior) declared for the NFL draft, and his career might never be the same (I'm being dramatic, but it's a possibility).
Now, what if Oklahoma held Bradford out a few more weeks, letting him fully heal, and geared up for the tournament? Chances are, they still wouldn't be good enough to make a Final Four run, but you never know. Either way, can you imagine the Sooners grabbing a No. 9 seed and winning in round one? Now you're looking at something like an Alabama-Oklahoma bloodbath before the Sweet Sixteen.
Seriously, how much fun would that be?
So, you can argue for Boise and TCU and Cincinnati, but it accomplishes very little. Your argument needs expansion.
Yeah, these bowls sure are a lot of fun.
You know what was my favorite bowl game last year? If you guessed the EagleBank Bowl, in the words of Jules from Pulp Fiction, "You a smart mutha f**ka." Except I'm joking. It was the dumbest bowl game in the history of dumb bowl games, and I didn't even watch it. Know why? Because Wake Forest and Navy, two boring squads with no national following, were playing a rematch of a regular season game three months prior. No intrigue, nothing at stake, no audience (aside from gamblers and family members). Allow me to misuse the word literally here: There was literally no reason to watch last year's EagleBank Bowl.
But if Wake Forest and Navy had squared up last year in the first round of last year's tournament, nobody would've cared that it was a rematch. Sure, it wouldn't have been a dream matchup, but the ratings would've quintupled (or quinjillioned) those of the EagleBank Bowl. The reason: office pools. Every mom in America fills them out, and they're far and away the number one reason why the NCAA tournament is what it is.
But I digress...Look, this is a football-crazed country, and there is absolutely no way a 64-team tournament wouldn't be bloody successful. Sure, there are probably a handful of kinks I've failed to recognize, but I'm sure the college educated gentlemen who comprise the NCAA could figure it out with some quickness. Well, maybe not. But it doesn't mean I'm crazy, either.
I'm not crazy, am I? Am I crazy?
From the Oh Yeah Department: Stop telling me 64 teams would be too many, and stop reminding me how many more teams compete in D-I hoops compared to D-I football. I know. Really, I do. But I also don't care. The NBA and NHL send roughly half their leagues to the playoffs - and often times multiple teams with losing records - and I don't see a massive uproar. Plus, a whopping 68 teams are competing in bowl games this year! Whatever. I know I'll never see the day, but a 64-team tournament is doable. And for those of you who disagree, I'd love you to email me and tell me how much you hated when No. 13 seed George Mason shocked the world and made the 2006 Final Four.
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)